Essex, MD asked in Health Care Law for Maryland

Q: If I leave work due to unsafe conditions due to Corvid-19 and have a family member who has cancer, Am I eligible?

My employer doesn't take good percoution to keep our employees safe from Corvid-19 and I'm living with someone who is high risk if I get sick from Covid-19 and I wish to quit because of it. The condition of the essential store I work in hasn't been safe to begin with and has effected my mental health as well.

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1 Lawyer Answer
J. D. A.
J. D. A.
  • Hunt Valley, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: In normal times, in order to voluntarily resign employment and be eligible for unemployment benefits under Maryland law, an employee has to show the resignation was either: 1. for a "good cause" or, 2. resulting from a detrimental "valid" [change of] work circumstances. So now the employee would need to show that the COVID-19 pandemic was a change in circumstances and/or good cause resignation. This would be in the context of the employee's particular workplace- and likely the reasonableness of the precautions taken by the employer would be a factor.

The CARES Act changes things a bit. The guidance they previously gave about quitting for COVID reasons is instructive and helpful, even if not technically being applied in MD yet:

"But if you quit (or want to quit) because of your fear that continuing to work puts you at risk of contracting coronavirus, then your fear must be reasonable and based on the circumstances of your personal health or the health of someone you live with."

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